By Deiric McCann Head of International, Genos International. Speaker/writer on sales, marketing & leadership. Author 5 books incl. Leadership Charisma. Leadership Blogger. See more by him here.

Why common courtesy is charismatic. 6 Uncommon ‘Common Courtesies’


If you want to truly engage people so that they positively want to give their all to their jobs then you must develop a positive working relationship with each of your direct reports that helps you maximise productivity person by person.

And the best way to do that is to ensure that you spend sufficient time with each of your people one-on-one to get to really know them.  Genuine engagement is personal and those leaders who achieve it and get superior productivity from their people make a particular point of spending enough time with each of them to know them almost better than they know themselves.

Making 1-2-1 meetings engaging

Besides the practical monitoring and management of the progress of each of your team’s objectives these sessions should be targeted at raising their self-confidence and self-esteem – confident and self-assured people are much more easily engaged and become much more productive.

When you have such 1-2-1 meetings with your people try to build as many of the following features into the conversation as possible.

  • Congratulate them. Everyone does something worthy of note on a daily basis.  Make it your business to be aware of something notable they have achieved since you last spoke and, before anything else, congratulate them on it and thank them for their contribution.  In ‘Fierce Leadership’ Susan Scott says that “Sometimes the fiercest thing we can say to someone is, “I want to tell you exactly what I appreciate about you.”  Then she suggests you tell them exactly what it is you appreciate about them – without a ‘but’ or a ‘however’ within ten miles of your conversation. Appreciate them and they’ll appreciate you.  Always open on a positive note.
  • Remind them of their value. Make sure that you are clear as to exactly what each person’s role is in achieving your vision – how they can contribute and why their contribution is so essential.  Then remind them frequently.  Don’t assume that they know.  Make it a point to outline why their input is so critical and how their contribution will be key in getting where you want to go.
  • Review progress against goals. We all need to feel that our contribution is valuable – and we need to know where we stand.  Make it a point to ensure that you review each team member’s goals with them at least monthly – more if you can.  That exercise will keep you informed and connected – but it will also motivate them. 1-2-1s like this are the perfect opportunity to do just that.
  • Make current job-related information available. The ancient thinking that “information is power” and that those who hoard it maintain their power is dead.  Charismatic leaders get the maximum from their people by openly sharing with them as much information as they can to enable them to feel positive and motivated about the environment in which they work.
  • Take them into your confidence. Some things you’ll share in group meetings – some things you will not.  There is nothing as flattering as the feeling that someone else trusts you enough to take you into their confidence.  Don’t ‘spill all of your candy in the lobby’ in group meetings- always hold back something that you can share later in one-on-one meetings with members of the team on a ‘just me and you basis’. Extending trust creates trust.  Trust is a keystone of engaging leadership.
  • Talk to them about themselves. Showing a positive genuine interest in each of your people’s personal lives and personal goals is not just a great way to get an insight into how to more effectively motivate them – but it also creates a much more personal relationship.  One of the characteristics of charismatic leaders most often noted by the people who work for them is their sense that their leaders really understand and care about them and their personal situations and concerns.
  • Ask for advice.  In each meeting with a team member have some topic upon which you specifically need to ask that person’s advice – and, when you ask, then listen to the advice you get.  Get them to open up and share their advice, expertise and ideas with you.  There is nothing as good for another’s self-esteem as to feel that their opinions are valued by those who lead them.
  • ‘Anything else you’d like to share?’  Always end each one-on-one with an open-ended question like this – and, when you do, shut up and listen.  Encourage people to share their ideas, thoughts, questions, and concerns.  When they do be sure to demonstrate how highly you value their input – by later doing something positive as a result of whatever they share with you.  There is nothing as flattering as having a leader you respect take one of your ideas and make positive use of it – whilst also crediting you with the genesis of the idea.

Employee engagement drives superior productivity and is very much a contact sport – make it a point maintain firm 1-2-1 contact with each and every one of those who directly report to you.

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